Dating

Online Mating

I’m bummed to be missing tonight’s show, particularly because the theme is “Online Dating”.

YOU NEED TO GO TO THIS SHOW. TONIGHT. THE GALLERY CABARET. 7 PM. $5 SUGGESTED DONATION.

Then again, when I decided to write this post to try and contribute something, I was sort of at a loss.

I’ve had a lot of experience with online dating. But the further you get away from it, the less you feel as strongly. That’s an obvious statement, but I was surprised at how indifferent I felt when trying to recollect my experiences.

Though, the truth is, they were just unmemorable. Back then I could rattle off first names and occupations, places met for first “dates”, what the last correspondence was like, if there was any at all.

And finally the mounting disbelief from not hearing from someone after having what I perceived as, A Great Time.

I went on one streak where I would plan dates back to back in one night, trying to tackle the dating scene like a bad math problem. But mounting misses over hits start to take their toll. Not to mention the exhaustion from hopping around the city.

None of us are really built for this kind of thing. I don’t know what percentage of luck to assign to those who’ve met their forever mates online, but it’s significant. In fact, I truly believe it’s the difference between those that succeed and those that fail. Unless you did something way out of character to mess up a potential relationship, it’s all a roll of the dice whether you’ll be presented with someone you could hit it off with.

I rolled the dice A LOT. I had a few short term things come out of it, including a fairly disastrous on and off non-relationship with a guy I’d messaged through the OkCupid app while drinking wine at home.

I will accept my part in why things went wrong, but at the end of the day, we just weren’t a match.

The reason it’s hard to tear yourself away from online dating even after it’s chewed you up and spit you out is because of the potential. You just need ONE chance to connect with ONE person and then stop online dating for eternity (or several years.)

It’s also hard not to enjoy the constant tiny ego boosts and small thrills at the feeling of “what if”. Sure, you can go a few weeks or months, content in not getting a text that makes your heart race, or anticipating your drink date with that super cute person you’ve been messaging for the last day or two or the bliss in recollecting an awesome date.

That’s why you should have a strategy. Mine was to not be super active and to immediately dismiss anyone who was flakey.

I can’t tell you if this worked out because shortly after initiating this plan, I met my now partner.

And it wasn’t online.

But I do think the second part is important and useful. If someone doesn’t respond or make plans or seem truly interested in the way of taking action, then they are not your person. Period.

There’s nothing to analyze or over think.

Online dating is voluntary. If it seems and feels like your only option, the least you can do is approach it by putting yourself first. I know radio silence after platitudes and overtures of genuine interest hurt. Constant rejection isn’t good for anyone. It’s almost equally disheartening when there’s mutual disinterest over and over. So the only way to take control of the situation is by creating the mindset: You are doing this for fun and will stop doing it once it’s no longer fun. Or at the very least, take a break from it.

In the meantime, try to spend your time with friends, traveling, and just doing things you enjoy.

Because once you meet your person, you might get pregnant and move in with your parents and stop doing all of the above.

-Carly

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Meet Our Readers

For our last show of the year, we’re tackling Online Dating with Beth Spencer, Nancy Hightower, Brittany Meyer, Gina Wynbrandt, Gina Watters, and Special Guest Co-host Alicia Swiz. Unlike some (but not all!) attempts to find love through the Internet, it’s gonna be awesome. Come see this talent-packed lineup before you go into a pie coma. It’ll give you something new to talk about with your aunt.

Alicia Swiz

SWIZ_eqHeadshotAlicia Swiz is a Jersey Girl In Chicago by way of North Carolina. A professor and a performer, Alicia uses humor and candid observation to provide insight and awareness about gender, feminism and media. A pop culture lover with a critical eye and an activist heart, Alicia draws from her personal experience and academic training to facilitate conversations about what it means to be a feminist in 2015. Find her at popgoesalicia.com or watching Bob’s Burgers.

Gina Waters

Gina WattersGina Watters is a writer originally from Michigan, but has lived in Chicago long enough to remember the Washington Red Line stop and a city without a single H&M store. She has previously read her work at “Story Sessions’ Campfire Show”, “Essay Fiesta”, “That’s All She Wrote” and “Write Club”. She hates the phrase “bucket list”, but if she were to have one, it would only include two things: to ride a Segway and to hold a baby goat. Not necessarily at the same time.

Brittany Meyer

DSC_7437Escaping Florida only three years ago, Brittany moved to Chicago in hopes of finding a career and romance. After giving up on that, she turned her attention to stand up comedy and a cat named Lil’ Rue McClanahan. Brittany has written for ‘The Women in Comedy Festival’ and her own office newsletter that she mostly keep to herself. You can see her every month as producer and host of ‘Strip Joker,’ a new, body positive, comedy showcase at Gorilla Tango Theatre, tickets available now for February 11th, March 10th and April 14th through GTT’s website. See everything Brittany does on her website, brittanymeyerdoesthat.com

Beth Spencer

spencer.headshotBeth Spencer is a wastewater engineering librarian who spends her days researching biosolids and dewatered sludge, but she likes to cut loose at night by dabbling in comedy, crochet, and music trivia. Beth occasionally puts her undergraduate degree in creative writing to use by blogging about gum she’s purchased on clearance, sending greeting cards to celebrities, and sporadic live lit performances.

 

 

Gina Wynbrandt

tumblr_n6o0i1SKzy1qashb7o1_1280Self-described as “the Carrie Bradshaw of comics,” Gina Wynbrandt is an artist living in Chicago. Her work focuses on romantic humiliation, personal insecurities, and pop culture. She was featured in Best American Comics 2015 and nominated for an Ignatz Award. She loves sitcoms, teen pop stars, makeup, the Internet, and being the center of attention. http://www.ginawynbrandt.com

 

Nancy Hightower

photo by April O BergelerNancy Hightower has published weird fiction and even weirder poetry (possibly the result of having grown up in the South and her dad working for three televangelists). She tried to get a PhD studying Henry James, but then realized she would never get invited to another party. She switched to creative writing and got the PhD, which meant that while there were parties, there were no jobs. So she taught a very cool class on the grotesque in art and lit at the University of Colorado until she finally published a novel, then moved to NYC three years ago, where all the weird people live. http://www.nancyhightower.com

He Loves Me Not…SO WHAT?

A post to my former self. And anyone else looking for unsolicited advice.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the post I wrote a few weeks ago on dating.

Mostly I’ve been remembering how boy crazy I was at a very early age and how that evolved over the years.

It’s made me really sad and annoyed to realize how much time I spent being Super Bummed Out that some guy didn’t like me back.

Why was it so important for my crush to think I was cute? Why did I stay up nights crying over an unrequited “love”? Why did I believe I needed someone to be my boyfriend in order to feel complete?

At the time, I thought something was wrong with me. I felt unattractive, unwanted and unloved. I thought the only way to undo all of these things was to find a man.

What I didn’t know or understand is that finding a man had way more to do with finding a friend than with getting someone to ask me out on a date and tell me I was beautiful.

Seriously, think about all of the people you’ve ever been interested in or hoped were into you. How well did you know them? Did you consider if you’d even be compatible? Would you describe them as a “really good person” or someone you felt could complement and expand your world?

We rely on so much superficial information. Ask yourself why you even like someone. Are you just obsessed with captivating their attention? Why is that important?

I wish I hadn’t needed someone to validate my existence by swiping right or liking my status or texting me back in 30 seconds.

I wish I hadn’t lived a life waiting for some dummy who I most likely would have been unhappy with to choose me.

I wish I had liked myself over needing someone to like me.

Because I wouldn’t have been so miserable, depressed, anxious and self loathing.

Because I wouldn’t have taken my friends and family for granted.

Because I would have understood that my worth wasn’t tied to Some Dude.

And I want you to know that yours isn’t either.

If you’re wondering why I have the nerve to say this when I’m with someone, I will tell you. I’m at a place where I Do Not Care What You Think. And by “You”, I mean Men. Perhaps it’s finally realizing my feminism or it’s being in a relationship where I’m not afraid of losing him just for saying what’s on my mind or when something is bothering me and wanting him to be in my life because of who he is and what he does and not as a compliment factory-movie trope-permanent wedding date or maybe still, having a greater understanding of mortality.

Whatever it is, I no longer want to link what I think of myself with whether or not a man likes me.

Before you decide to give someone your everything, make sure they’re worthy. If they’re not, move on.

You’re totally awesome and a catch and have so much to offer? Be that person to the people who deserve that. Bake an awesome birthday cake for your favorite co-worker. Buy your mom an unexpected gift. Cook your roommate a meal.

Stop waiting around to be someone’s amazing girlfriend or wife.  Stop thinking that’s what your purpose in life is.

Accept the love that is being offered to you already. If you find yourself having a meltdown over someone on Tinder who won’t make a plan, you’ve already wasted time and energy that could have been much better spent.

I’m not trying to convince you that being single is better than being with someone. I’m trying to say that while you are single, try to enjoy it.

No, nothing beats those first few months of falling for someone. But for most of us, only a very select few of those whirlwinds turn into something more (and Not A Spoiler Alert: the honeymoon period ends, sometimes sooner than later…like if you get knocked up after five months. WOMP.) For the sake of math, find balance between the time you’re sweating some guy who probably won’t be your boyfriend and the One Million Other Things that will make you happy.

Did you hear that as of October 6th McDonald’s will be serving breakfast 24 hours? See? That absolutely beats having drinks dutch with a know-it-all who starts your non-date by saying he’s not looking for anything serious.

If you find that the only thing you think will make you happy is getting a boyfriend, you might want to re-evaluate your life.

Which is what I wish I would have done over twenty years ago.

-Carly

“Dating” is Terrible and Always Was

I just read this stomach turning article on Vanity Fair about Tinder and “hookup-culture”.

I don’t know anything about dating in your 20’s in 2015 and have been out of the game for two years, but I have some thoughts on the matter that I still think are relevant.

The gist of this story is that dating apps have changed the way we interact with people when it comes to finding love, sex and relationships. And the people winning out from this “evolutionary” change are men. Men who now have access to what seems like an endless stream of wanting and willing women are not interested in anything serious, let alone buying you a meal. (Seriously, one guy bragged he only spent $80 total on three different girls. Way to go, bro?)

The problem I had with this whole thing (aside from how gross and obnoxious and probably very true it is for some people), was the idea that women just had to “go along” with this. That men are setting the pace and in order for us to keep up, we have to play the game.

No, ladies you do NOT HAVE TO AGREE TO ANY OF THIS. And the more you do, the worse it’s going to get.

Men (who) want to get laid and will do whatever they have to to make that happen. If the baseline for doing so is that they respect you (and maybe, like, try to get to know you), then they will. If the baseline is that they don’t have to do anything, then they probably won’t.

If someone is an asshole, why are you sleeping with them? If I surveyed women who were OK with casual relationships or not looking for anything serious, most of them probably wouldn’t put one night stands above sex with someone they actually liked/had a connection with/knew for longer than twenty four hours.

I’m not arguing against women having one night stands. I’m arguing that if women don’t want to have one night stands, stop having them. If you want something more meaningful, stop sleeping with someone the first night. If you are actually OK with someone coming over and having sex with you and before you even put your clothes back on he’s looking at Tinder (actual story from this article), I DON’T BELIEVE YOU.

All of the women who want to find someone who will give a shit tomorrow (or, god forbid a week or month from now), you absolutely should stop talking to these dudes who are sending unsolicited dick pics and pizza emojis.

Also, I know it goes against everything we’re taught about being validated as human beings, but just because a cute guy swiped right on you, that doesn’t mean he gets to treat you like a P.O.S. Why do you even care if a jerk who is trying to sleep with someone different every night of the week thinks you’re doable?

I know. I know. Easier said then done. I’ve fallen into this hell hole called “dating” in the not SO distant past. I’ve used online dating sites and apps. I get the temptation. I get the instant gratification. I understand wanting to go with the flow because you feel like the only way you’re going to meet someone is to play it cool. I’ve done this. But in the end, you’re only hurting yourself.

Being alone can suck. But it can’t be worse than sleeping with a douchebag WHO IS APPALLED AT THE IDEA OF CARING ABOUT YOU.

If Every Single Guy is acting like this, then stop interacting with them. Netflix and Grubhub may not help your self esteem, but neither does a “Sup” text at 2 a.m.

Are you jealous of your girl friends who aren’t having orgasms and who hook up with guys who can’t get it up? (Actual anecdotes from young women in the article.)

Yes, these men need to straighten up. These guys who’ve all become pick-up artists because they know how to operate a smartphone all need a lesson in human decency. BUT UNTIL THEN, STOP GIVING THEM THE TIME OF DAY.

If every guy suddenly decided they didn’t want to go down on you anymore, would you all just be like “OK, I guess this is how it is now”?

REALLY?!

You don’t have to accept any of this. Please ask yourself why you do. Why do you want someone who is behaving this way to be your dude?

WHEEEEEEEEE, A GUY WHO DOESN’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ME AND TREATS ME LIKE AN INTERCHANGEABLE VAGINA THINKS I’M THE PRETTIEST GIRL AT THE BALL…FOR TWO WHOLE HOURS!!! ::TWIRLS AND LAUGHS AND TWIRLS AGAIN::

Please don’t misinterpret this message as me telling you to “act like a lady” or play hard to get/make them work or the whole “if he’s getting the milk for free…” crap. I know that’s what it sounds like. What I’m saying is that if this is the new age of dating (as in, this is your first exploration of the like in your late teens, early-mid 20’s) it’s up to you to set the rules. Women: You Are In Control. Stop putting up with this bullshit and they will stop acting this way.

Remind yourself that you are obviously not missing out on anything even remotely great by taking yourself out of the game completely or setting totally reasonable expectations for how someone should treat you.

Or wait it out.

Dating apps are like buffets. We have all of these choices and we want them all. But eventually we get full. Or we zero in on our favorite thing and enjoy that the most. Or we get sick of the buffet because if that’s all we did everyday it would be really gross.

The guys you want are the ones who’ve had their gorge fest (or try it and think “this is not how to meet someone in a real and genuine way”) and finally realize this isn’t actually what they want either. Maybe a guy in his 20’s isn’t there yet. I don’t know.

Look around you. People you know are still in longterm relationships/getting engaged/married/having babies, right? So there’s your proof.

Everything I remember from a lot personal experience is that dating is one of the worst things I’ve ever subjected myself to. It is the most draining thing, heart, body and soul, one can purposely endure. I absolutely acknowledge the disgustingly large amount of horrible behavior you will encounter. But there was no greater feeling than to finally tell myself I wasn’t going to accept any crap and to actually put that in practice. It was the only way to make dating enjoyable (and empowering.)

And when I was totally overwhelmed by all of the indifference and callousness, I deleted those dumb apps and online profiles and went about my business as a single, eligible person who would rather die alone than be treated like a barely human flesh light.

Maybe you could put the phone down (which is probably not what the cool kids do, especially if you’re 22 and living in Manhattan) and meet someone at a party or a bar. Which is what I did.

And if you know me and are thinking to yourself “Gee Carly, I guess I could get knocked up and trap a man”, AT LEAST I CAUGHT A GOOD ONE.

-Carly

Single Ladies

Two things have happened recently that have gotten me thinking about my dating status.

Rose was awesome enough to pass along a job ad for an online publication looking for a new dating blogger. She said she thought I might be a good fit, which was really flattering. When I read the description, it said the person applying should be “actively dating”. So…I didn’t apply.

Then a good friend of mine posted a question about a dating scenario on Facebook wanting feedback. I totally knew where she was coming from, even though I’ve been “out of the game” for a bit. I answered, but the whole time felt like an asshole, as if I no longer have insight or opinions on dating that are valid since I’m in a relationship.

When I told Rose I didn’t think I filled the requirement for the job, she said she thought that part was bullshit and really put a limit on finding someone who could write about dating. I agreed at the time, but after responding to my friend’s query, felt less assured.

I used to write about this kind of thing all of the time. I had also been single and basically looking for over five years. Sometimes I was more aggressive in my search, other times I was so burnt out from everything, I would take a break. But blogging about it and producing a show that was about dating, relationships, and sex meant that I felt a sort of obligation to keep things interesting. Or more accurately, to always have material.

Even now, sometimes I feel like my posts on this blog are boring because I’ve written so much about my pregnancy and being a new parent. I won’t assume my past stuff was particularly mind blowing or thought provoking, but it did have a wider range.

But I’m not one dimensional. I have opinions on all kinds of things, especially when it comes to dating. I may not be in the thick of it and I don’t have much to say in terms of present day complaints, but I remember things pretty clearly.

Two years ago today, I wrote about how I was frustrated with dating. But I’d also decided that guys who made no effort weren’t worth thinking twice about and that I wasn’t going to waste my time on them.

I also said I wasn’t as prone to be blindsided by love after so many years of failure.

I was wrong.

You CAN be blindsided by love, any time, no matter what’s happened to you and no matter how long it’s been since you’re last love (if you’ve had serious relationships in the past.) Even if you are jaded like I was. Even if it feels hopeless.

If you are still dating, then you still believe.

And you should.

Measuring Life in Halloweens and Black Bean Burgers

Over the last few weeks, I read this beautiful and elegiac piece, dressed up for Halloween, and burst into tears in the bar area of Chili’s.

My boyfriend stared at me, unsurprised. I’d dropped hints this was coming: Staring into the distance in between getting sodium poisoning from Bottomless Tostada Chips. Shifting in my seat. Asking, “Where do all the books go?”, my voice breaking slightly.

We’d just sold five boxes of books at the Half-Price in Skokie. And smaller things have made me cry in public places.

I went on to blubber through some stuff about growing up in a house with too many books, which was terrible and wonderful, but the first part makes me want to lead a capsule lifestyle now (I’m failing), that I have so many shitty relationship memories, and I was thinking of this because a lot of previous Halloweens were ruined by an ex-boyfriend, who’d been really into Chili’s and that was why all these feelings really made sense right now.

He took a bite of his chicken sandwich. I wondered how I wasn’t single.

I was with someone for a long time who wasn’t into Halloween. He didn’t like costumes, or even dressing up at all. It was faking it, he said, pretending you were someone you weren’t. It was lying. Every year, we’d fight about going out and participating. He’d grudgingly put on something that was a costume, sometimes. It wasn’t even a half-assed costume. It was a quarter-assed costume, a walking reminder of how he didn’t want to do something and thought it was lame.

I ended up feeling terrible about something I loved. And there were a lot of things like that. I don’t begrudge someone for not liking something, but ruining it for someone else is pretty low.

Through exes, suburban chains restaurants, and “Learning to Measure Time in Love and Loss“, I realized that life is too fleeting to be with someone who hates Halloween. It’s too precious to convince yourself that what you love sucks, and you should apologize for it. It’s too important to date someone who doesn’t make you feel amazing, supported, and loved. And it’s way, way too short to salt your giant Diet Coke with tears of regret.

My black bean burger sat in front of me, their attempt at an artisanal bun glossy and golden. My boyfriend looked at me, his face open and concerned. I stopped talking and ate.

-Rose

 

Dating Advice Since I’m No Longer Dating

I used to write a lot about my “dating life”, or lack there of.

There was a good four years that I was not attached and I spent a good portion of that time looking for someone.

And by someone, I knew that I would just know. Sorry for that ineloquent statement, but what I mean is that I was sure when I met the next person that I wanted to be serious with, I would be able to feel it in my gut.

I didn’t think it would take years and I definitely started to worry about when it might happen.

So I tried all sorts of things. I tried going out with guys I wasn’t all that interested in. I tried going on as many dates as possible. I tried filling out a more specific OKCupid profile.

If I did happen to go on a good date, I tried to do all of the right things. Wait the appropriate amount of time to contact them, say all of the right things in a text message, try to decipher and pick a part their messages back to me.

But being away from that for almost a year now has given me perspective that I wish I had been patient enough to accept.

Dating Is Not A Game.

At least, not if what you want in the end is a significant other, partner or husband/wife. You don’t have to play to win.

There is no formula, no perfect wording, no “new way” of thinking and approaching this thing.

Because in the end, there is either some kind of connection or there isn’t. And it doesn’t have to do with anything but fate. I don’t mean destiny, I mean chance.

What I’m trying to tell you is that you’re not doing anything wrong. You do not need to be better looking. You do not have to go out with people who don’t interest you just to give them a chance. You do not need help crafting a better online dating profile.

Because even in a better fitting pair of pants, armed with grammar and interesting words on a screen, you are still you and chemistry is still chemistry.

I’m sorry if that lack of control is driving you insane and making you feel bad about yourself. I’m sorry if you’re spending a lot of time wondering when it’s going to be your turn or if you’ll even have that turn.

Don’t stop trying. Just don’t try to strategize. Go out with people you want to get to know. Ask people out you want to get to know. Talk to strangers. Let friends set you up. Use your online profile however you want to.

Be yourself.

And remember that you are only 50% of every situation, every relationship. That other person also has to spark an interest in you and that isn’t so easy to come by. Attraction? Sure. Lust? Definitely. But desperation? No thanks.

More than likely you already know what this looks like even if it didn’t work out. You know what it’s like when two people click, even if it was only temporary.

Keep this in mind when you’re out there.

It’s frustrating as fuck to not find it right away and worse when it’s been years. It’s hard not to view it as some sort of failure on your part. It sucks to put so much effort and time into something and still end up with nothing.

But it’s worth it to get what you want. It’ll be what both of you will want.

-Carly